Showing posts with label chocolate. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chocolate. Show all posts

Monday, May 16, 2011

Bessie's Chocolate Fudge Squares Stuffed with Peanut Butter Cups

I was at the grocery store recently shopping for basics like milk, eggs, and bananas. I had no intention of veering off the path. And then I struck gold. I approached the Easter candy sale section and my eyeballs almost flew out of their sockets. First of all, I thought I had missed my chance to get Easter candy on sale because it was already several days after the holiday. In fact, I had already mourned that lost opportunity and moved on with my life. Second, giant bags could be mine for just $1.20 per bag. I gave in and put several bags in my cart - a few Cadbury mini eggs, Reese's, and some other stuff.

I wish I could tell you it was a tough decision and my brain was fighting my hand not to pick up any candy. But that's not how this experience played out. I don't think my hand-reaching could have been any speedier or more certain. There was no pause, no trembling, just one beautiful straight grab and it was over.

I don't view this at all as lack of will power. I view it as investment, because Reese's Peanut Butter Cups shaped in the form of Easter eggs are still just Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. The ingredients are the same. I can buy these and use them in baking as if there were no difference. And I knew when I bought this giant bag of Reese's exactly what I was going to do with the eggs. They were going in brownies.

The only thing left to do was decide on a brownie recipe. I pulled out my family cookbook and found a recipe my aunt had submitted for Bessie's Chocolate Fudge Squares. Bessie was the housekeeper that many of my relatives on my mom's dad's side shared back in the 1950s and 60s in Youngstown, Ohio. The brownies are more on the cakey side than the fudgy side, and I'm more of a fudgy girl, but they work really well with a stuffing of peanut butter cups. I'm quite pleased with my $1.20 purchase.

Bessie's Chocolate Fudge Squares Stuffed with Peanut Butter Cups
Adapted from a recipe by Bessie Anglun, a housekeeper that worked for my mom's paternal family in Youngstown, Ohio, that was submitted by my aunt Linda to our family cookbook

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2 squares unsweetened chocolate
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 to 1 cup toasted nuts, optional
1 teaspoon vanilla
12 Reese's Peanut Butter Easter Eggs or Cups

Melt butter and chocolate together in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat and add sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Mix in flour, baking powder, nuts, and vanilla. Place in greased and floured (or sprayed with nonstick cooking spray) 9-inch or 8-inch square baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-25 minutes.

Step-by-Step in Pictures
Melt the chocolate and butter...

Remove from heat and add the sugar...
Add the eggs, one at a time...
Add the dry ingredients...

Add the vanilla...
Spread about half the brownie batter in the bottom of the prepared pan, then evenly distribute the Reese's Peanut Butter cups/Easter eggs on top...

Spread the remaining batter on top of the Reese's Peanut Butter cups...
Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 to 25 minutes...

Cut into squares and serve...

Monday, May 2, 2011

Seeing Double: Double Chocolate Banana Bread

I love banana bread with chocolate chips. But what's one ingredient that could make it even better? Cocoa powder! That's the key here and it makes this bread double chocolaty!

Instead of making two large 9-inch loaves, I distributed the batter among 3 smaller loaf pans. Then, when the loaves were done baking and cooling, I immediately froze a few of them, knowing I alone could not eat that whole recipe before the bread spoiled! Ok, I probably could have eaten all of the loaves, but I wouldn't have been happy about it a week later.

When the bread has been sitting out for a few days and it's not as fresh as on day 1, it makes amazing toast. Try it with a little orange marmalade or even simply a light spread of butter. How about some peanut butter? Everyone knows chocolate, bananas, and peanut butter were meant for each other. Mmm.

Double Chocolate Banana Bread
Recipe adapted from The Ghirardelli Chocolate Cookbook
Makes two 9-inch loaves

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated white sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
4 large ripe bananas, mashed
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder mixed with 1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease two 9 by 5-inch loaf pans or three or four smaller loaf pans. You can mix and match sizes; just be mindful of the baking time as smaller loaf pans need less baking time.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the milk and bananas, beating until well blended.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, unsweetened cocoa-sugar mixture, baking powder, and salt. Gradually, add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture. Mix on low just until combined; be careful not to overmix! Gently stir in the chocolate chips (with a spoon, not the mixer). Pour the batter into the prepared pans.

Bake for 60 to 75 minutes (less time for smaller loaf pans), until golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Set the pans on a rack to cool for 15 minutes, and then turn the loaves out of the pans to cool completely. To freeze, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and then place in freezer bags.

Step-by-Step in Pictures
Combine dry ingredients with cocoa and 1/2 cup sugar...

Set aside...
Cream the butter and sugar together...

Add the eggs, one at a time...

Beat in the milk...

Beat in the bananas...

Stir in the dry ingredients/cocoa-sugar mixture...
Stir in the chocolate chips...

Spread the batter evenly into the pans...

Bake at 350 degrees F for 60 to 75 minutes...

Slice and serve...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Caramel Matzah Crunch Ice Cream: A Passover Dream Come True

Oh yes I did. I just put two of my favorite things (and I know they are also favorites for many of you!) together and it's all kosher-for-Passover!

You can call me a hero. Start celebrating a Happy Go Marni Day in your city. Post cardboard cut outs of me on your lawn. Write me onto the next presidential ballot. I just made Passover dessert more than simply tolerable! Hip Hip Hooray!

Made-from-scratch vanilla bean ice cream gets a Passover-themed flavor enhancement with the addition of tiny pieces of caramel matzah crunch, that chocolate caramel-covered matzah candy that the world can't live without on Passover. A-mazing! Both of these things are things I've blogged about separately before. So all they needed was a little love and marriage.

I knew I wanted to make ice cream for Passover, but I thought it would be more special if it had a distinctly Passover feel to it. I can't toss in regular candy pieces because of the corn syrup or other no-no ingredients. But caramel matzah crunch is something I make annually regardless, and broken up into tiny pieces, they resemble toffee bits! Sort of like Skor or Heath Bar bits.

The result is an ice cream that feels special for the holiday, but if you don't finish the batch by the end of Passover, it's perfectly delicious to continue consuming post-Passover. And you can't say that's true for a lot of other leftover desserts you might have when Passover ends. I see you through the computer screen, nodding in agreement. Try this!

Caramel Matzah Crunch Ice Cream
This recipe is my (very) successful attempt to marry Caramel Matzah Crunch by Marcy Goldman and Philadelphia-Style Vanilla Ice Cream by David Lebovitz
Makes about 1 1/2 quarts

3 cups heavy cream, or 2 cups heavy cream and 1 cup whole milk (honestly, 1% will work fine)
3/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
3/4 teaspoon Passover vanilla extract
Approximately 1 1/2 cups Caramel Matzah Crunch, broken up into little 1/2-inch pieces (see recipe below)

Pour 1 cup of the cream into a medium saucepan and add the sugar and salt. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the saucepan and add the pod to the pot. Warm over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved.

Remove from the heat and add the remaining 2 cups cream (or the remaining 1 cup cream and the milk) and the Passover vanilla extract.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator overnight. When ready to churn, remove the vanilla bean, rinsing and reserving it for another use. I recommend straining the mixture into a new bowl because there might be tiny pieces of bark from the vanilla pod that you don't want in the ice cream. Then churn the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

During the last 3-5 minutes of churning, when the mixture is pretty thick and almost of perfect consistency for soft serve ice cream, pour in the caramel matzah crunch bits and let the ice cream maker incorporate all the pieces. Transfer the ice cream to freezer containers and freeze for a few hours before serving to allow the ice cream to firm up a bit.

Caramel Matzah Crunch
4-6 unsalted matzahs
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter or unsalted Passover margarine
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup coarsely chopped chocolate chips or semi-sweet chocolate

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a large (or two smaller) cookie sheet completely with foil. Cover the bottom of the sheet with baking parchment — on top of the foil. This is very important since the mixture becomes sticky during baking.

Line the bottom of the cookie sheet evenly with the matzahs, cutting extra pieces, as required, to fit any spaces.

In a 3-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the butter or margarine and the brown sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil (about 2 to 4 minutes). Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and pour over the matzah, covering completely.

Place the baking sheet in the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 350°. Bake for 15 minutes, checking every few minutes to make sure the mixture is not burning (if it seems to be browning too quickly, remove the pan from the oven, lower the heat to 325°, and replace the pan).

Remove from the oven and sprinkle immediately with the chopped chocolate or chips. Let stand for 5 minutes, then spread the melted chocolate over the matzah. Chill, still in the pan, in the freezer until set. Break into squares or odd shapes.

Step-by-Step in Pictures
Note: Additional photos can be found on my original posts for Caramel Matzah Crunch and Philadelphia Style Vanilla Ice Cream.

After the ice cream mixture has chilled in the fridge overnight, remove it from the fridge...

Strain the mixture into a new bowl to catch the vanilla pod and any tiny pieces of vanilla bark...

Pour into the ice cream maker...

When the ice cream is almost done, and thick but still moving easily in the machine, pour in the Caramel Matzah Crunch bits...

Churn with the candy bits for about 3 minutes, until fully incorporated...

Transfer to a freezer container and place in freezer to allow the ice cream to firm up...

Scoop and serve! You are in for a real Passover treat!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Passover Brownies That'll Fool Anyone: Mwahahahaha!

Abracadabra, hocus pocus, make me a Passover brownie that will fool anyone!

I chanted this spell as I put these Passover brownies in the oven, and apparently I'm quite a good witch. My magic worked! These brownies are, yes, technically kosher-for-Passover, but you would never ever know. I'd bet money on it in Vegas. Even the most discriminating palates and Michelin-rated chefs would have no idea. I am that confident I could fool anyone. There is 1/3 of a cup of matzah cake meal in place of 1/2 a cup of flour in an already certified, tested, heavenly brownie. And because they're so easy to make, it would be a shame, a tragedy, and at the very least, pretty lame, for you to make a Passover brownie mix instead. Please don't.

Bippity Boppity Boo!

Kosher-for-Passover Ice Bath Brownies
Adapted from a recipe by Alice Medrich in Cookies and Brownies
Makes 16 brownies

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon Passover vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/3 cup matzah cake meal
2/3 cup walnut or pecan pieces, toasted (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Line an 8x8 metal pan with foil and drape extra foil over the edges so you can lift the brownies out later for cutting on a cutting board.

Melt the butter and chocolate in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until the mixture is melted and smooth. Be very careful not to burn the mixture. If you think you're not the careful type, use a double boiler or heatproof bowl set on top of a pan of gently simmering water. It's a lot harder to burn chocolate and butter when using a double boiler.

Remove the saucepan from the heat. Stir in sugar, vanilla, and salt. Add eggs, one at a time, stirring in each until it is well incorporated. Beat in the matzah cake meal until the mixture comes away from the sides and looks smooth and glossy, about 1 minute. Stir in nuts, if using. Pour the brownie batter into the foil-lined pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until brownies just begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. The surface of the brownies will look dry but a toothpick inserted in the center will still be quite gooey. That's a good thing!

While the brownies are baking, prepare the ice bath. Fill a roasting pan or large baking pan (a standard 9 x 13" pan works perfectly) with ice cubes and water about 3/4-inch deep.

When brownies are ready, take the pan out of the oven and immediately place in the ice bath. Careful not to splash water from the ice bath onto the brownies! Cool the brownies completely in the ice bath.

When cool, remove the pan from the ice bath and lift the foil edges up and out of the pan and place the foil on the cutting board. Cut the brownies into squares to serve.

Store in an airtight container. Because these are fudgy, they will taste delicious for at least 3 days, and if you're lucky, up to 5 days!

Step-by-Step in Pictures
Melt the chocolate and butter together in a saucepan...

Remove from the heat and stir in sugar, salt, and vanilla until sugar is dissolved...

Add the two eggs, one at a time...

Add matzah cake meal...

Stir just until combined...

Stir in the nuts, if using...

Spread evenly into the prepared pan...

Bake for about 15 minutes at 400 degrees F...

When done baking, immediately place in an ice bath to cool...

Cut into squares and enjoy!
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